Once up in the Grand Valley Road area, the birding began to pick up. We missed the Spruce Grouse by about a half hour according to one fellow we met but we came across two Great Gray Owls. They were very obliging allowing us to get a number of good pictures, including some flight shots.
|Great Gray Owl|
Great Grays weren't the only reward along Grand Valley Road. We also came across two Northern Shrikes, two Townsend's Solitaires, a Northern Hawk Owl and even better, two Sandhill Cranes! We spent some more time driving north to Water Valley and beyond and found a third Great Gray and as we began to move east around mid morning we came across three Rusty Blackbirds, our first of the season in Alberta. These were a very nice surprise. One encounters this species all too seldom, especially northwest of Calgary.
|....and the Deer Mouse|
The Irricana sloughs were almost entirely ice-free but our hope to encounter some waders didn't come to fruition! Killdeer was the only shorebird for the day. We did find this splendid looking male Ring-necked Pheasant however. The colouring on these birds really is amazing!
We returned home to Calgary well pleased with the day's results - but the day wasn't over yet! We set off again after supper to do some owling along the Sibbald Flats Road, in the Foothills west of Calgary. We drove straight to Sibbald Pond arriving about 9 P.M. and then worked our way back out to the Trans Canada Highway stopping and listening every kilometre or so. Our primary hope was for a Boreal Owl but once again, we found no evidence of this species. We did however hear a number of calling Saw Whet Owls and actually got to see one of them up close. Once again, Brian had his camera at the ready and the shot below is the result. This was a catchup species for Brian and I as Phil and Mike had it earlier in the year. It was our fourth owl species for the day!
|Northern Saw Whet Owl|